Sunday, May 27, 2012

What a lovely Day

Hello everyone.  It is a beautiful day outside.  We've waited a long time but it is certainly worth the wait - and quite often books are that way.  I've been waiting a long time for my Medieval story - Lady of Shadows - to be published by Museitup.  Fingers crossed it will be out next month sometime.  This is a big story and is told over two volumes - the series, Sisters of The Ring.  I'm really looking forward to seeing this one in print.

One thing I have to say on this blog is how much I enjoyed Amanda's A Titanic Affair.  I've read two Titanic books recently.  Both were good but I loved Amanda's - a recommended read. Hope to do a review at Red Roses For Authors soon - when I have a little time.  At the moment I'm working hard on a big saga.

Love to you all.  I hope you enjoy this blog.  There are so many talented authors.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Exciting news about (Mr) Darcy's Diary

I'm very pleased to say that Hale are going to produce a limited edition, de luxe version of (Mr) Darcy's Diary. The book will be an illustrated hardback, and it promises to be very lovely indeed. It will have a sewn-in ribbon marker - I love those, as I am always losing my bookmarks! - coloured end papers, head and tail bands and a sewn binding. And every copy will be personally signed by me!

It will be a limited edition, priced at £25, and Hale will ship worldwide. So if you’d like a copy, email for more information or to reserve a copy, putting Darcy’s Diary in the subject line.

I want to make sure all my fans have a chance to get hold of a copy, so if you hang out with other fans, please help me to spread the word, because once it's gone, it's gone for ever.

Time Slip and Time Travel

I have been fascinated by time slip and time travel books ever since I first read The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier, where the hero of the novel agrees to experiment with a drug made by a friend, which makes his mind travel back to the 14th century while leaving his body in the present.  This was an intriguing concept and from then on, I was on the lookout for similar books (although it took me years to find one!)

Du Maurier’s story was great, but what really got me hooked on the time slip genre was The Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine, a truly ground-breaking novel.  The heroine of this story tries to debunk theories of past-life regression, but ends up reliving the experiences of a woman who was alive during the time of King John, in an all too vivid fashion.  I literally couldn’t put this book down and when later I started writing myself, this was the kind of book I wanted to write.  Other stories, such as A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Rachel Hore’s The Glass Painter’s Daughter, only reaffirmed my love of this genre and showed that even more literary authors liked the concept as well (as you probably know, Possession won the Booker Prize!).

This type of writing seems to me to make history come alive in a more personal way, because the protagonists in the present are in some way engaged with people of the past.  In a time slip novel (where there are two strands of a story that are somehow connected, but the characters in the present don’t actually travel to the past), this can be achieved in many different ways – through past-life regression, drugs, research, diaries or ghostly phenomena.  The same goes for time travel stories (where people from the present somehow end up in the past) and I’m constantly amazed at the various means authors devise in order to have their protagonists travel through time. 

As a reader, I find the time slip stories somehow more convincing because we know that actually travelling through time is not possible and in order to buy into that theory, we have to suspend our disbelief much more.  Although the existence of ghosts or multiple lives have never been proven either, for me those notions are more plausible and easier to believe.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy time travel stories as well – I do, very much so!  But I see them as pure fantasy, whereas with time slips there is an element of “it could perhaps be true”.  Well, I’d like to think so anyway!

Which is perhaps why I have finally achieved my goal and written a time slip story myself – The Silent Touch of Shadows will be published on 7th July this year and here is a short blurb:-

What will it take to put the past to rest?

Professional genealogist Melissa Grantham receives an invitation to visit her family’s ancestral home, Ashleigh Manor. From the moment she arrives, life-like dreams and visions haunt her. The spiritual connection to a medieval young woman and her forbidden lover have her questioning her sanity, but Melissa is determined to solve the mystery.

Jake Precy, owner of a nearby cottage, has disturbing dreams too, but it’s not until he meets Melissa that they begin to make sense. He hires her to research his family’s history, unaware their lives are already entwined. Is the mutual attraction real or the result of ghostly interference?

A haunting love story set partly in the present and partly in fifteenth century Kent.

Do time slip stories count as historical novels?  To me they do, because the make the past come alive in a different way, but I'd love to hear everyone else's view on this!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

England v France?

As an author of novels set mainly in the “long” Regency period I have to confess that the men’s clothes are one of the great attractions for me. Shallow, I know, but just look at this wonderful portrait of Lord Grantham.

Brummell is, of course famous for promoting the Dandy style, based on the everyday costume of the English country gentleman and relying on the famed skills of the London tailors – breeches, tail coat, stock etc, all set off by the fine boots and shoes from bootmakers like Hoby. One of Hoby’s billheads from 1818 is shown below and includes a guide to help you measure for your new boots.

Cut, fit and fine materials were everything and ostentatious display, frills and anything that drew attention to one’s costume was most definitely “out”.
Even someone with a reputation for flamboyance such as the young Disraeli, shown below, kept to the plain style with just a hint of  frill at the cuff.

Soon the English style swept the continent, replacing the sumptuous fabrics, bright colours and ornate touches of the French. Just look at the two French gentlemen below in contrast to Lord Grantham – lurid colours, clashing fabrics and weird leg-wear marks them out.

 I don’t have a date for these two exquisites, although I am assuming the 1790s. The prints are exquisitely detailed and hand coloured but their intent was apparently satirical, judging by the captions to them. Fellow author Joanna Maitland has wrestled with the antique French for me, but even she was baffled by the meaning of the wording below the pretty blond youth - “I'm consoled by the fact that I can hang the collector. Ah! the wonderful droit de seigneur.”  If anyone can explain it, I’d love to hear!
The older man, wearing a hat, is captioned “There are no handsome men in the world except me.”  Obviously neither suffered from an inferiority complex.
Who do you think is the most attractive – Lord Grantham or one of the French pair? Or perhaps you like Disraeli’s take on the English style.

Louise Allen

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Robert Stirling's hot-air engine

In the C18th and early C18th men working with steam engines were always at risk from exploding boilers. In the first steam-driven locomotives only the driver, stoker, and anyone having the misfortune to be passing by at the time were killed.   

But when high-pressure steam boilers started being used in ships - e.g. in American river steamers driving side-mounted paddlewheels – an exploding boiler meant a death toll of hundreds, and tons of valuable cargo lost.

While work continued on trying to improve the quality of metal and strength of the seals used in constructing high-pressure steam boilers, one man had been exploring a radical alternative.  

Born in Scotland in October 1790, Robert Stirling was one of eight children. His grandfather, Michael Stirling had invented the first rotary threshing machine in 1756, and it was probably from him that Robert inherited his interest in engineering. After a classical education at Edinburgh University, Robert was ordained as a minister of the Church of Scotland in 1816.  This same year he patented his first ‘air’ engine. 

There had been earlier experiments with ‘hot-air’ engines both in France and England so the idea wasn’t new.   What made Stirling’s engine different was his invention of a regenerator, which stored the heat from one cycle for use in the next, making the engine far more efficient. 

His was a closed-cycle engine which meant the same air – first heated then cooled – was used over and over again. No new air was drawn in and none was expelled as exhaust.    

How it worked:  air inside the cylinder was heated by an outside source, a small wood or coal fire.  (In the model above the silver-coloured chamber is the firebox, and in front of the water tower - part of the cooling system - you can see the handle of the shovel on which the fire would be laid.)  This heated air expanded and pushed up the piston. The air then passed through the regenerator to the cold side of the engine where it cooled and contracted, pulling the piston down.  This continual heating and cooling of the air produced the pressure change that pushed and pulled the piston, making the engine run. 

It was beautifully simple, efficient and clean.  But most important of all, because there was no boiler it was totally safe.  In 1818 one of these engines was used as a quarry pump and ran for two years.  

Heavy investment in high-pressure steam meant that the air engine – an invention ahead of its time - was never fully exploited. 
But it gave me a great idea for a book.   

Jane Jackson.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New book but not one of mine

Not a proper blog today, but a short message to say that I've just received my copy of Elizabeth Bailey's new Georgian crime novel, The Deathly Portent.

I so enjoyed the first novel -- The Gilded Shroud -- in this new series, now called the Lady Fan Mysteries. I'm supposed to be working on my own book at the moment, but as soon as The Deathly Portent arrived in the post yesterday, I admit I started reading it. I had to force myself to stop and get back to work!

For all those who loved Elizabeth Bailey's Mills and Boon romances, I do recommend these new crime novels.  They have everything you loved in the romances, plus continuing characters you can really come to love, and murders as well!  Her heroine sleuth, Ottilia, is a fantastic character.

You can find out more at Elizabeth's website here. I am sure you will really enjoy these stories. 

Now, for me, it's back to work on MY book!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Yorkshire" free in May!

I hope you’ll forgive the promo post, but this could benefit all of us!
Next month sees the release of “Lisbon,” the last book in the Richard and Rose series, or, at least, the last in the current cycle. The villains are, well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.
So this month my publisher Samhain is giving away the first book in the series, “Yorkshire.” If you download that, and you like it, then you can buy the others. That’s the theory anyway, but the important thing is – free book!
“Yorkshire” started the story of Richard and Rose. While every book can be read on its own, each book in the series takes Richard and Rose further on in their adventures together.
I started the series with plans for a series of country house mysteries in an age when civilian law enforcement was in its infancy. It didn’t turn out like that. Villains appeared who targeted Richard and Rose personally, and the couple had their own problems with their families, so it turned into a saga about two people from different backgrounds making a success of their marriage and coping with adversaries that appeared to ruin their lives.
Richard and Rose suffer a coup de foudre in “Yorkshire”—love at first sight. There are arguments as to if the phenomenon is actually lust at first sight, and there’s certainly some of that, but it could be that this magical event happens. It doesn’t work out for every couple, that’s for sure, but, hey, I write romance.
Some of the series is watching Richard and Rose work together and fall deeper in love as time goes by. After their initial meeting, they have to work out a lot of problems, and learn each other.
This is the moment when it happens for them:

I heard a sound from behind me, a footstep in the yard outside, closer than the stable boy who still sang lustily in one of the horse boxes at the other end of the yard. Hastily dropping the strap, I stood, and brushed my skirts down with my hand in a nervous gesture. It must be the groom. He couldn’t find me in this situation, mustn’t guess my discovery.
Lord Strang walked into the coach house.
His held his injured arm in a sling fastened around his neck, and he was dressed simply in a country frock coat, slung around his shoulders against the cold. No makeup or expensive velvet today and a simple wig, fair hair close to what I now knew to be his natural colour, tied back. He looked comfortable, at ease, far more human than he had when he first stepped out of his coach the previous Monday and far more like his brother, but I would never have confused them.
He stopped when he saw me and slowly looked me over. I felt dowdy and provincial under his even gaze, and dropped my eyes. He came quickly towards me, and then stopped again, a few paces short of me. Regaining my courage I lifted my head and we stared at each other. “Good morning, ma’am.” He bowed.
“Good morning, my lord. Do you feel better today?”
“A good deal better, thank you. Sleep and rest seem to have restored me almost to my old self. But not quite,” he added in a quieter, more reflective tone.
I glanced at the sling, expertly tied, no doubt by his resourceful manservant. “You look much better, sir. I hope your arm does well now.”
An easy, genuine smile transformed his grave features into something else, making him look like any other man—almost. It went right through me. “I hope so too. Carier certainly seems pleased with its progress.”
I felt uncomfortable with just the two of us, and the unseen groom and I groped in my mind for something to say. “Your man is very capable with injuries.” I tried hard to keep up a normal conversation. “I didn’t think it was considered usual in a manservant. Not all military men are familiar with injuries, or how to deal with them.”
“Carier joined me on the Grand Tour, direct from the army.” He didn’t seem aware of my awkwardness. I thanked the Lord for good manners that prevented him indicating any awareness. “He served a general for several years and took an interest in helping the wounded. He dealt with much worse during his service, or so he would have me believe.”
I found it difficult to take my eyes off Lord Strang, but I knew I must do something to stop myself, or he might notice. I felt awkward and ungainly as I always did in difficult situations. My inner feelings intensified it, made it even worse. Partly to give myself an excuse to take my eyes away from him and partly on an impulse I turned away and picked up the cut strap. “Sir, I noticed the most dreadful thing, but I need someone’s opinion.”
His attention had gone to the strap in my hand, and he must have seen what I did. He took the step that brought him to my side. “Good God!” Taking the strap from me he turned it over so he could examine it from both sides.
We stood side by side and stared at the strap for a while in silence, for far too long. Then I found my voice at last; “It has been cut, hasn’t it, sir?”
I smelled him now. An unidentifiable scent of manhood mixed with citrus, too agreeable for comfort. I wanted to move away, but thought he might realise something was wrong if I did. I would be deeply mortified if that were to happen. It was bad enough to have this crazy infatuation—much worse if he knew it.
“There’s no doubt about it. Look, it’s been cut nearly through. I’m surprised the coach got as far as it did.”
He dropped the strap as though it had become suddenly hot, and went round to the other side of the coach to examine the strap on that side, but I didn’t follow him. I needed time to get my breath back. His presence so close hit me like a blow to the stomach, especially in the way he had taken me by surprise by walking in so unexpectedly. I put my head back and took some deep, clear breaths of the chilly morning air, pulled it down into my lungs in an effort to clear my head. Slowly, I regained my self control.
Lord Strang walked round the coach carefully, examining it closely at several points, then he came back to where I stood. “This is very serious indeed.”
“Shouldn’t we tell someone?”
Impulsively, I turned towards him, but he was standing too close for me to avoid the power of his presence. I drew a breath and smelled him, the perfume he used and the unfamiliar scent of masculinity. I could feel the heat of his body. Then I let my eyes meet his in a careless second. Everything rushed in on me, in his blue gaze. I was lost.
His eyes widened in disbelief and the breath caught in his throat. “You too? Oh dear God.” Without any more words, he drew me close with his good arm and kissed me.
Tiny tentative kisses at first, gentle, the kind one might give a friend at greeting, but they soon changed to passionate and demanding when, despite my good intentions, I responded and kissed him back.
This could not be happening. But I didn’t pull away. I wrapped my arms around him instead, and touched him properly for the first time. His hard body tensed under the fine linen shirt and his warmth seeped through to my very heart.
I’d never known anything remotely like this before, this aching desire that betrayed all my self-control. Living in an overcrowded manor house had taught me powers of discretion no one had been able to break through before, not even Steven, although he had tried. While every sensible bone in my body screamed for me to pull away, to get away, my treacherous arms wouldn’t push, and my legs seemed rooted to the spot. With those kisses, he unlocked something I had only been aware of dimly before.
He bent his head to kiss my neck. Now I could call out, now I could say something, but I only sighed with longing. My throat arched, his kisses burned my skin. I wanted him to continue, but he pushed me away, gasping, “No!”
My astonishment reflected in his eyes as we stared at each other. All my good resolutions had gone, dissolved in the wake of passion. Only aware of him as he looked at me, I tried to think, stay calm, in control of myself, but had to fight for it like never before.
“Someone told me you were dangerous.” My voice shook despite my best efforts to keep it steady.
“Then you have me at a disadvantage, for no one told me how dangerous you are.” I stared at him uncomprehendingly, and a heavy silence fell between us.

If you want to get Yorkshire free during May, you can get it from Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, or most other outlets. Here's the Amazon link: 

Lynne Connolly

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Shadows of Love ( Miss Peterson & The Colonel)

I'm delighted to tell you that  my fourteenth book for D C Thomson, and my fourth for People's Friend, The Shadow Of Love, was published last week. I love the cover - perfect for the story as Lydia runs a stud with her brother.
I'm posting the blurb and an extract and hope you enjoy them. The book is till available if you want to read the rest.
best wishes

Lydia Peterson is content to run her stud farm and remain single, the last thing she wants is an autocratic brother-in-law interfering with her life even if he is the most attractive man she is ever met. Colonel Simon Wescott, on leave from the Peninsular War, believes that a wife has no place in a soldier's life until he comes into contact with his infuriating, headstrong sister-in-law.
However when a series of dramatic events throw them together and both their lives are endangered they are forced to reconsider their first impressions.
Will Simon be able to compromise his duty to put King and country first in order to save Lydia's life? Can she give up her independence and become a soldier's wife?
 Lydia grabbed at the strap as the carriage tilted alarmingly but failed to stop her undignified slide into the well of the vehicle. Her maid landed heavily on top of her. For a moment she lay winded, unable to move, terrified the vehicle would go completely over.
'I beg your pardon, miss, I couldn't stop myself from falling.'
'It's not your fault, Martha, I think we must have broken an axle, I sincerely hope the horses are unharmed.' With some difficulty she extricated herself and stood up. 'At least we are both in one piece. If I balance on the edge of the seat I believe I might manage to open the door.' She attempted the maneuver and the coach rocked alarmingly.
'Please don't do that, Miss Peterson, you'll likely have us right over.'
'Why doesn't Sam come to our aid? I believe he might have taken a tumble from the box and be lying injured in the road. As Billy went ahead to order refreshments at the White Queen, there's no one to tend our coachman. I must get out.'
This time her struggles sent the coach crashing right over. Her world turned upside down, her legs and arms became entangled with Martha's and it was several minutes before she was able to get both of them upright. The doors were now the floor and ceiling, the squabs pointing into the air. The sound of her precious horses panicking meant she had no option. If she did not get out and release them from the harness they would likely break a leg.
Suddenly Martha screamed and pointed downwards, Lydia saw water seeping in through the door that now acted as the floor. They must have turned over into the ditch that ran alongside of the road. 'Hold on to something, Martha, I must climb out this instant. I think if I could step on your knee I might reach the door handle somehow.'
Her smart travelling ensemble was ruined, the hem already saturated with muddy water, her spencer in no better case. Her lovely new bonnet was hanging in disarray around her neck, her sister had been most insistent that she dressed in her best to meet the colonel as the much longed for visitor was to arrive today as well. She was not going to impress anyone now.
The whinnying and stamping from the team had stopped. Was this a good or bad sign? Before she had time to consider the door above her head was slammed back and a gentleman appeared in the space. It was impossible to see his features clearly, but from his voice he was obviously well-to-do.
'Why couldn't you stay still, ladies? You have turned a minor accident into a major disaster. I have released your horses and attended to your coachman, however now that you've managed to tip the carriage right over there is nothing I can do to get you out without assistance. You must stay in here.'
The incredibly rude gentleman vanished as suddenly as he'd appeared leaving Lydia standing up to her boot tops in freezing water. 'Come back here this instant, sir, you cannot abandon us in here.'
He slammed his fist against the carriage and shouted back. 'I cannot right the vehicle unaided, neither can I pull you out through the door. You will come to no harm, the ditch is shallow, I shall be back as soon as I can.'
Then he was gone, only the sound of hoof beats echoing in the cold winter air to keep her company. This was no gentleman, he had callously left her and Martha without making a serious attempt to rescue them. He could be gone hours, what about poor Sam unconscious on the side of the road? She would not remain incarcerated here a moment longer.
'Martha, let me stand on your knee. If you brace yourself against the seat I'm certain I can scramble out.'
'It's a good thing you're not a short as me, miss, I'd not reach even if I tried.' With her maid to use as a stool she grasped the edges of the open door. 'Martha, give me a push, I think I can do it then.' Her feet were grasped firmly and she was rising steadily, throwing herself forward she tipped headlong through the door and slithered, skirts and petticoats flying, down the side to land with a thud in the road.
Can Lydia keep her independence and the man she loves?

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Miss Austen, may I introduce ...?

My battered late 19th century copy of Manners and Rules of Good Society by A Member of the Aristocracy deals with everything a novelist could possibly want to know about how Society operated and, as far as I can tell, the same rules apply to the Regency period.

Take the knotty question of Introductions. The basic rules are simple: a gentleman is always introduced to the lady, not the other way about, no matter what his rank. This allows the young lady to say, ‘Mama would not wish me to be introduced to Lord Wildblood’, thus avoiding an acquaintance which might damage her reputation.

For example, in 1814, Lord Byron sought an introduction to Lady Charlotte Leverson-Gower from a mutual friend. The friend was eager to oblige. Lord Bryon wrote in his diary, ‘I stopped him and said he had better ask her first, and in the mean time, to give her entire option, I walked away to another part of the room.’ Byron’s good manners paid off; Lady Charlotte agreed to the introduction – though one does wonder what her Mama thought.

However, this rule could cause problems for a young lady. The Season was her opportunity to find a husband and there were not too many years to do it in. She needed to find out discreetly whether a gentleman wished for an introduction since this meant he’d have to dance with her. We see this at the Meryton Assembly scene in Pride and Prejudice where Bingley offers to get Darcy an introduction to Elizabeth: ‘Do let me ask my partner (Jane) to introduce you’. Note Bingley’s assumption that Elizabeth would not refuse.

Darcy declines: ‘She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me, and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.’ In practice, it is Darcy who has the power, not Elizabeth who is forced to sit out because of the shortage of men.

Fortunately for Catherine in Northanger Abbey, the Bath Master of Ceremonies introduces her to the hero, Mr Tilney. However, we note that her host, Mr Allen, ‘had early in the evening taken pains to know who her partner was, and had been assured of Mr Tilney’s being a clergyman, and of a very respectable family in Gloucestershire.’ Mr Allen is aware that his young guest’s reputation is at stake.

It is obvious that the rules apply mainly to ladies and, from a 21st century feminist perspective, they seem designed as a means of social control to keep women in their place. In theory, they give ladies the right to decline an introduction but, in reality, this is little more than a sop. The real power remains with the men.

Turning to the rules for gentlemen meeting other gentlemen: ‘The host seldom introduces gentlemen to each other as they address each other as a matter of course.’ We note that considerations of reputation do not apply here. However, rank still matters, as we see in the episode where Mr Collins thrusts himself on Mr Darcy’s notice at the Netherfield Ball.

Elizabeth is horrified, she ‘tried hard to dissuade him from such a scheme, assuring him that Mr Darcy would consider his addressing him without introduction as an impertinent freedom …’  She is only too aware of Darcy’s pride in his rank.

When introducing ladies to each other, ‘a hostess should always give the lady of higher rank the opportunity of declining the introduction’. If she agrees to it, then the lady of lower rank is introduced to her thus: Miss X, Lady Y. The first named lady is the one being introduced, making it clear who stands where in the pecking order. When Lady Catherine de Bourgh visits Longbourn, she doesn’t speak directly to Mrs Bennet. Instead, she says to Elizabeth, ‘That lady, I suppose, is your mother?’ As far as Lady Catherine is concerned, there is no introduction and she doesn’t know her.

Once we understand the rules, we can fully appreciate what it means to Elizabeth when Darcy begs to be allowed ‘to introduce my sister to your acquaintance’ after they meet again at Pemberley. It should be Elizabeth who is introduced to Georgiana but by reversing their respective ranks Darcy lets Elizabeth know just how highly he values her.

What about those people whom one knew by sight or exchanged a few commonplace words with? Without a formal introduction, it is only a ‘bowing acquaintance’. In Persuasion, Lady Dalrymple spots Captain Wentworth and says to Sir Walter Elliot, ‘A very fine young man indeed! More air than one often sees in Bath. Irish, I daresay.’

Sir Walter replies, ‘No, I just know his name. A bowing acquaintance – Captain Wentworth of the navy. His sister married my tenant in Somersetshire, the Croft who rents Kellynch.’ However, Lady Dalrymple’s opinion is important to him and it is not long before the mere ‘bowing acquaintance’ is invited to the Elliots’ At Home.

For a novelist, these rules can admittedly be irksome but they also allow us the opportunity to indicate shifts in status or intimacy. And, surely, for all of us, novelist or reader, knowing the rules allows us to appreciate the subtle changes in the relationship between the hero and heroine, and enhances our enjoyment of Jane Austen’s incomparable novels.

Elizabeth Hawksley

Thursday, May 03, 2012

A Taste of Bath

Hi everyone

I have been so busy during April that I have almost lost touch. First of all I had a deadline to meet for a duet – two books planned for the end of the year, but I can't say more about that at present!  Then I have been designing a new website and also I am starting my own blog, One Belle's Stratagem, to post odd notes and excerpts and background to my books.
I wanted to get all these things done by the end of April, but I was invited to talk at the West Country Writers Association Congress on the weekend of the 21st April, and since the Congress was in Bath I thought it an ideal opportunity to spend a few extra days looking around that wonderful city – especially since the book I've been working on is set there. Therefore all my deadlines had to be met by 20th April.  A tough job but I made it and could go off to Bath ready to enjoy myself.

I was staying at a beautiful old country hotel about two miles from the city centre, so it was much less of a problem to walk into Bath than to try and park there. The route was the London Road, so I had the chance to take pictures of the charming old buildings I saw along the way.  There were beautiful Regency villas like the one above, lovely terraces and a wonderful building (right) that is currently used by an undertaker, but was originally an eye and ear hospital in 1837 and dealt with wounded veterans of the Napoleonic Wars.   I have discovered that the bust above the entrance is Aesculapius, the Greco-Roman god of medicine.

Walking around Bath really gives one a feel for the place and I was equally enthralled by looking at the backs of the buildings, especially this one on the Circus – can you just see the small black wooden protrusion on the left – it is not a very clear picture and I apologise for that, but I have added an arrow pointing to the wooden construction.  That is an early "en suite".  Apparently it was to keep the noisome odours out of the house. But there was no plumbing so it contained a pot that the servants still had to carry downstairs through the house for the night-soil man to take away.

One of the real gems of Bath – but one that is probnably not included in the excellent free daily walking tours because it is at the top of a steep hill  – is Camden Crescent built by J Eveleigh between 1787 and 1794.  You can see from the picture that there is a beautiful pediment over some of the houses but this is not central, so obviously it is not the Palladian ideal.  Apparently the land was serious unstable, and the last five houses on the northern end collapsed and were never rebuilt.

I also visited Royal Crescent, the Assembly Rooms, the Royal Baths, etc. etc. etc….I could go on for pages and pages about Bath, but even after three full days walking around the city there is so much more to see and do.  

I will leave you with just one more snippet.  If you walk down Gay Street and look into the window next to the door of no 41, you will find yourself looking into a tiny room with a beautiful tiled alcove to one side. This is a powdering room, where a fashionable Georgian gentleman would have his wig powdered  before he sallied forth for the day.

Sarah Mallory